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Full Guide on Core Values

Sarah, a sibling of mine, suggested a question to me the other day. She said, “Hey Ryan, so what are core values? Why are they important in life?” Well, I’m a big fan of having values (good ones) and then living life by them. But that’s very hard!

Imagine if we have to lead our lives randomly. How chaotic it’ll be? But it isn’t like that because we all follow different rules when conducting ourselves at home, work, or school. Organizations and businesses also have rules that all members must adhere to. Among these are some specific core values that drive and motivate us. 

core values - two people laughing

What Are Core Values?

A set of principles or beliefs of any organization or individual are called core values. While some of these beliefs may be identical, every organization or individual has particular traits, and they serve as the cornerstone. The core values are the steering wheel or compass in making the right decisions and operating daily activities. These values keep things in motion in a systematic way. They also shape one’s attitude towards life and add positivity. 

Core values aren’t limited to just individuals and companies. They’re present in every aspect of society. These values are what keeps everything in place and running. Else, there’ll be only chaos, and everything will fall apart. In this article, we’ll try to find out more about core values, so let’s look at some of these beliefs and how they impact us daily.

See also: Mottos to live by

Examples Of Core Values

—Core values!

Personal Core Values

While every person is different, we all have some fundamental core values, and we try to live by them. As stated earlier, these traits act as a compass and direct us to the right way. Some of us may have more core values than others, but these principles impact our lives profoundly. 

The following are some examples of individual core values that most people adhere to. They include

  • Freedom: For instance, if freedom is one of your core values, you won’t want a job where you have to work more hours than necessary and arrive and leave at a specific time. Working under an employer who barks orders non-stop may also be impossible, even if the pay is good. So, you may prefer to start and run your own business because you’ll be your boss and not have to answer to anyone. However, if freedom isn’t one of your core values, it won’t matter much where you work if it pays well.
  • Integrity: In another instance, if integrity is one of your core values, you’ll always do the right thing, even if it comes at a significant cost. You’ll never compromise on honesty and always speak up. You may face the wrath of others around you because of it, but it won’t stop you from standing for what’s right. While some may dislike your integrity, others will love and respect you too. 
  • Kindness: it’s a core value in most people because it oozes positivity. Having empathy as one of the core values makes you considerate, generous, and friendly. If you’re compassionate and amiable, everyone becomes happy, and people around you absorb the positivity. Kindness shouldn’t just limit to your loved ones. You must also be kind towards everyone, including animals and strangers. When your heart develops empathy or if you’re naturally kind, life becomes more interesting, and you feel at peace too.
  • Respect: it’s a core value that you have to earn. If you want others to be respectful towards you, you must first respect others. For example, you may not agree with someone on a particular subject because we all have different opinions. However, you can talk calmly and objectively about it and air your differences. You don’t have to be aggressive and call names. Instead, disagree but show respect and mention this fact to the other person. You’ll, in turn, earn the respect you deserve. Not everyone may offer you the same respect but most will.
  • Humility: You must have heard of the phrase “pride goes before a fall,” and it’s true. No matter how skilled, creative, and talented you are, you won’t get much love and respect if you’re arrogant and haughty. It’s likely that you may not be appreciated as you would like, even though you may be exceptional in what you do. On the other hand, humility earns respect and love from everyone around. If you’re humble and don’t show arrogance, even if you’re the best in everything, you’ll soar even higher. 
  • Open-Mindedness: Everyone in this world has different opinions and ideas. It’s difficult for even two individuals to agree on everything. However, it doesn’t mean you should close your eyes and ears to everything around you. Otherwise, you’ll remain stagnant and unable to adjust to the changing times. Being open-minded will enable you to listen to others calmly. You’ll also be to accept others’ points of view and have constructive arguments. Who knows, some of their ideas may be useful, and you may want to incorporate them into your life. Being open-minded will also make it easier to move forward and prepare you for fresh concepts.
  • Loyalty: it’s one of the most essential core values. Being loyal makes you reliable and trustworthy. Loyalty also involves being consistent in your conduct towards who matters to you. You’re there for them in times of need and can be counted on. You also stand up for them even when they aren’t around and support them no matter what. You’ll naturally invite criticism, but it shouldn’t matter as long as you’re in the right. Being loyal also earns love and respect, and if you’re consistent, these feelings.
  • Gratitude: Is it easy for you to thank people for being there or for loving you for doing even the little things which make you happy? It means that gratitude comes effortlessly to you. However, this core value isn’t limited to showing or giving thanks to people around you. It also means being grateful for the life you have and acknowledging the benefits you receive every day. But when you show gratitude, it shouldn’t be just for a show. You must be sincere, and the gratitude must come from the heart.
  • Sincerity: It’s an important aspect of life and a core value. Simply put, being sincere means being true to your word and acting according to what you speak. However, as with the other core values, sincerity mustn’t only be a show for others to see. It should be genuine and consistent and not only a one-time thing. You shouldn’t only be sincere in your words and action but also in your work, studies, faith (if you’re religious), and every aspect of life. 
  • Courage: You need to be courageous to do what is necessary, no matter the risk. In life, you will encounter many situations requiring you to be fearless. You’ll also meet many people who try to bully and intimidate you. Without courage, it’s impossible to stand up to them. Sometimes, fear may overtake you, and you may not be brave enough, but you must be courageous. Your gallantry in a problematic situation will prevent something terrible from happening to you or your loved ones.
  • Perseverance: It’s essential to persevere because it won’t always be a smooth ride. You have to persist and hope that things will improve, just like every dusk brings the dawn. You must have the motivation to continue and try harder until you succeed in what you do. You’ll probably face hardships, and everyone may criticize you and discourage you from being persistent. But if it’s one of your core values, you’ll keep on going and ensure you’re successful. 

These are the common core values but not everyone may have them all, or they may not be the same for all of us. Some other values include

  • Honesty
  • Patience
  • Fairness
  • Accountability
  • Justice
  • Forgiveness
  • Success
  • Financial security
  • Efficiency
  • Self-Love
  • Confidence

Core Values Of An Organization

All organizations have a set of beliefs, and they function according to these values. Individuals also have most of these core values regarding their jobs. So, the following are shared core values of individuals and companies. However, while some values may be similar for all companies, each organization may have more or less principles.

  • Integrity: It’s one of the most important traits not only in individuals but organizations too. A leader shouldn’t hesitate to do or speak the right thing every step of the way. They should be transparent and honest and make decisions with the best intentions for the company. 
  • Accountability: It’s a trait when you disclose your mistakes and take responsibility for them. You don’t blame others for the things that went bad because of your wrong decisions or actions. Committing to it may be a little tricky at first, but you gain more trust and support from your subordinates and employees. As time moves forward, more people will appreciate you. If you’re a leader, it’s also your duty to instil this value in all the members associated with the organization.
  • Teamwork: No organization can run on its own, and one person can’t operate it, no matter how small it is. There has to be a team to perform various tasks to function smoothly and take the organization to new heights. The idea of teamwork should be instilled in every member so that they can work together, share ideas, and make the company successful. Teamwork brings up fresh concepts, and tasks also complete fast because everyone chips in and performs their part.
  • Innovation: Every organization should have innovation as a core value because it’s vital in every sphere. Innovation includes taking calculated risks, incorporating new ideas, and thinking outside the box. It’s about better serving your customers, employees, and the organization. Being open to new concepts creates a road to new heights and makes the company unique and stand out from others. People are always looking for new and unique things in every aspect of life, so innovation makes a great core value.
  • Hard Work: Laziness will not take you anywhere. Hard work is one of the most important values not only for an organization but for everyone. We know from stories of some people who came from nothing but reached gigantic heights due to hard work and drive. If you wish to see your business reach greater heights, everybody involved should work hard. It should come from the heart, and everybody should do it sincerely and not just make a show. Genuine hard work will propel your company to a different level that you may not have expected initially.

Besides the above, the following list is also core values in organizations and businesses.

  • Sincerity
  • Ingenuity
  • Dedication
  • Responsibility
  • Professionalism
  • Learning from Errors
  • Leadership
  • Dynamic Responses
  • Efficiency
woman walking a dog and laughing

Core Values In Research And Studies

Earlier, we learned that core values aren’t limited to organizations and individuals. Studies and research are one area where core values play an important role because it’s about finding and proclaiming the truth. If the set of beliefs isn’t there, there is a high chance that the truth about many things won’t come to light.

Some core values of research and studies include:

  • Objectivity: Researchers must have an impartial view when looking for answers. Hence, objectivity is a core value so that some types of motivations don’t influence a researcher’s action. Any experiment set-up should be unbiased and not lean towards any belief that the researcher may have. It isn’t easy most of the time, but it is necessary to find the truth. That’s why it’s included as one of the core values.
  • Honesty: It’s impossible to bring out the truth without honesty. You should be honest about your findings, record them as they are, and not twist them because you disagree with the results. Otherwise, you’ll lose credibility and the trust of many people involved in the research. Besides, a false report can also cause dreadful incidents.
  • Accountability: This trait is also vital in research and studies because, often, a blame game starts when something goes amiss. One person or a group blame someone else for a mistake, and the issue only grows. Hence, if you’re researching something that goes wrong because of your error, you should disclose the fact and hold yourself accountable.
  • Openness: You’ll learn a vast number of things when conducting studies. So, openness in this context means presenting your findings transparently and not withholding any information. You’ll probably find some things not to your liking. But you should record everything and disclose the facts as they are. In another context, openness also means being unbiased or objective. You must open your mind to listen to opposing ideas or accept unwanted outcomes.
  • Fairness: A study or research aims to find and present the truth. So you should be fair when recording anything related to the study. You should include everything that you learned and not withhold any data. At the same time, reviewers should also be fair when reviewing any book, journal, thesis, paper, or research findings. Their reviews should only reflect the work presented to them and not any other aspect like race, color, gender, or nationality. 
  • Stewardship: Last but not least, stewardship is also a core value in research, and it involves everyone in the system. Members need to show good stewardship towards the system and their fellow members in the system. Stewardship can include:
    • Providing service for the institution.
    • Mentoring a junior member.
    • Sharing responsibilities.
    • Supporting right and progressive ideas.

Relationship Values

Relationship means different things to different people, but most have similar values like:

  • Trust: Trust is one of the essential core values in a relationship. Without it, there’ll be disharmony, and the bond won’t stay long. Cracks will appear slowly, and it’ll be too late to improve the relationship. Hence, before you involve in a new relationship, it’s crucial to build trust. You can do that by being honest about anything that your partner asks. Honesty should be a part of the relationship, and trust will automatically follow. At the same time, you must also learn to trust your partner because it’s a two-way street.
  • Fidelity: It’s the state of being faithful to your partner or spouse. Fidelity is also an important value in a relationship. Without it, a relationship will not last, and there won’t be peace between you and your partner. It doesn’t matter whether you’re married or in a relationship. You need to be loyal as long as you’re together. Infidelity destroys not only relationships but also the lives of your loved ones. It can also create enmity between two families and friends loyal to you and your partner. Sometimes it even leads to fatality. In fact, unfaithfulness in a relationship has resulted in many deaths over the centuries, and similar incidents continue to this day.
  • Stability: Like trust and fidelity, stability is a personal core value in a relationship. However, it doesn’t come all of a sudden. It takes time, and both partners have to work on it. There are several things that can bring stability to a relationship. You can:
    • Have meaningful conversations and learn more about each other.
    • Take part in various activities together. 
    • Limit your expectations and take one day at a time. 
    • Spend time together as much as possible but also give space to each other.
    • Prepare for difficulties ahead because things won’t be smooth all the time. 
  • Reliability: You or your partner or both of you will face challenges, and you’ll need each other’s support. During such situations, you should be able to rely on each. It shouldn’t matter whether the difficulty is a small or big one. If one of you doesn’t support the other, problems will arise. It will lead to a little argument and only get bigger, especially if you can’t depend on each other the next time you have a crisis. Talking about it at the beginning of a relationship is a good idea to avoid such a situation.  
  • Equal Responsibility: A relationship comprises two people, so every aspect should have a shared responsibility. It doesn’t mean that you have to do everything equally. But you share the duties equally. For instance, if you clean the house, your partner does the laundry. Or, if you buy the groceries, the other walks the dog.

Besides the four, the following are also relationship core values for many people:

  • Affection
  • Patience
  • Intimacy
  • Quality Time
  • Deep Connection
a happy guy picking apples

Core Values In Sports

Games and sports bring people from all walks of life together. The events strive for friendship and peace among people, societies, and nations. However, nothing will come of it if there aren’t some core values in sports too. In fact, tournaments will end in fights between the losing and winning teams. But it’s the core values that hold things in place. Some sports core values include

  • Fairness (fair play)
  • Respect (towards team members, competitors, and decisions made by officials)
  • Dedication and hard work
  • Discipline
  • Integrity
  • Teamwork
  • Excellence
  • Passion
  • Leadership Qualities
  • Confidence
  • Positive Attitude (even if you lose)
  • Humility

See also: Emotions list

Core Values In Education

Schools and colleges are places of learning the alphabet, math, science, and other things. That’s why all learning institutions have core values. Here are some common sets of beliefs in education. They include

  • Honesty (mustn’t try to pass by cheating or telling a lie if you commit a mistake)
  • Strive for Excellence
  • Respect towards teachers and fellow students
  • Appreciation (show gratitude when someone helps you)
  • Compassion (must learn to be kind to everyone)
  • Courage (must be brave, especially standing up to bullies)
  • Cooperation
  • Critical thinking
  • Punctuality 
  • Hard Work
  • Openness
  • Teamwork (share ideas when doing projects or help and encourage teammates in sports)
  • Sharing (must learn to share with others around you)
  • Accountability (take responsibility for any wrongdoing)
  • Confidence

Other Values in Life

  • Wellness
  • Spontaneity
  • Family First
  • Self-Control
  • Sustainability
  • Non-Violence
  • Tradition
  • Faith
  • Lawfulness
  • Optimism
  • Selflessness
  • Personal expression
  • Solitude
  • Righteousness
  • Acceptance of change
a group of people jumping into the air - core values


Core values play an important role in every aspect of life. We saw that all are positive, and that’s why everyone has them. The values are our compass that points us in the right direction. Adhering to core values makes us better individuals and takes a business, organization, or institution to more success and renown.

There are so many values, and we may not have them all, but all of us have some, and we should try to stick by those beliefs to make the world a better place. If we can incorporate as many values as possible in our lives, they will help us to become even better human beings. 


Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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